Daily Fantasy Baseball: Positive Batted-Ball Regression Candidates for Week 24
Recent batted-ball data can be very useful in MLB DFS, allowing us to notice the players who are seeing the ball well and hitting the ball with authority yet coming up short on results.
Remember, your fantasy opponents may only be paying attention to counting stats like homers and RBI and ratios like batting average and slugging percentage, which hardly tell the complete story of a hitter's performance. This is a major market inefficiency in daily fantasy, and one that is easy to exploit with a look at the underlying stats.
In this article, we'll examine recent batted-ball data to highlight players whose surface results are lagging behind their actual skills metrics (per FanGraphs and Baseball Savant), potentially putting them right on the edge of a productive hot streak that could pay huge dividends for daily fantasy players who roster them at a relative discount.
Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota Twins
Miguel Sano is hardly lacking for power production over the last month (.272 ISO in last 107 plate appearances), but his strikeout woes have contributed to an underwhelming overall line, with the hulking infielder slashing .217/.327/.489 over that span on the back of a hair-raising 38.3% strikeout rate.
The fact that the Minnesota Twins slugger can strike out that often and still manage a .816 OPS for that same period is a testament to how much damage he inflicts when he does get a hold of the ball. And boy, does Sano mash. With 27.5% liners, 54.9% hard contact, and just 7.8% soft contact over the last 30 days, Sano clearly has some of the highest power upside of any hitter outside of the elite tier.
Minnesota draws a number of aces on the Washington Nationals and Cleveland Indians staffs this week, but with Sano's on-base slump dragging his FanDuel salary below $4,000, he could make for a profitable against-the-grain play.
Yasiel Puig, OF, Cleveland Indians
A scorching hot summer has cooled down considerably for Yasiel Puig. After mashing his way to a .290/.340/.568 slash line across June and July, Puig has hit the breaks since the start of August, slugging .411 over 138 plate appearances since the calendar flipped.
His fly balls are down by a third over that recent sample, but otherwise, Puig looks pretty good under the hood, mashing 26.6% liners and 44.7% hard contact while working 13.8% strikeouts-minus-walks.
Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds
Given that he's been mostly left for dead in fantasy circles, we might be surprised to see Joey Votto near the very top of the last month's hard-contact leaderboard. Indeed, the veteran's 53.9% rate over the past 30 days is a top-fifteen mark across the entire MLB, one that's underwritten by an impressive 30.8% liner rate and a sharp 5.1% strikeouts-minus-walks.
It looks like the Votto bounce back is pretty legit, as the results are beginning to catch up to the peripherals: the Cincinnati Reds vet carries a .903 OPS in his last 79 plate appearances. What hasn't quite caught up is his FanDuel salary, which still sputters in the low-$3000s. Now's the time to roster Votto while he's still cheap, as the Reds draw one of the easier matchup schedules this week, including dates with Felix Hernandez, Tommy Milone, and Mike Leake.
Cavan Biggio, 2B, Toronto Blue Jays
Cavan Biggio carries a lackluster .205/.347/.359 slash line over his last 95 plate appearances, but those surface results mask some strong peripherals from the second-generation rookie.
Biggio's 16.8% walk rate over that span couples with a minuscule 17.2% reach rate to confirm the elite plate-discipline prowess that was the infielder's calling card in the minors. Meanwhile, the Toronto Blue Jays youngster is finally turning that sharp batting eye into quality contact, with his 42.9% liner rate over the last 30 days leading the MLB by a mile.
With the rook's dreary surface results likely hiding him from consideration for most daily players, Biggio figures to be a very sneaky dart throw for the remainder of the season. The Blue Jays don't face the easiest schedule this week, but with Biggio's FanDuel salary steadily tracking in the low $3,000s, you won't have to cough up much of your cap in the hopes that the young strike-zone maven catches the Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees staff on a bad day.
Brandon Belt, 1B, San Francisco Giants
Pointing to a low BABIP for Brandon Belt feels like a cheat, as the veteran slugger treads so heavily in a flyball-first approach that batting average woes are very much the cost of doing business
Belt might not be having any luck on batted balls, but he isn't striking out much either, with the veteran San Francisco Giants infielder sporting a lean 5.1% strikeouts-minus-walks over his past 99 plate appearances. Considering he's clearly dialed in at the plate (24% reach rate, 44.3% hard contact), we might expect a better than the .198/.293/.407 line that he's produced over the last month.
As far as cheap upside plays go, Belt is in a very nice spot this week. His FanDuel salary is trending below $3,000, while the Giants draw six very beatable from the Pittsburgh Pirates and Miami Marlins.
Tom Whalen is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Tom Whalen also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username whalentc. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.